New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

of Contemporary Women's Fiction, Romantic Comedies, and Historical Romances

 

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Harlequin Blaze Anthology
(ISBN 0-373-79367-7)

 
 

"Holiday Inn Bed"

 

 

When Eric and Jessica decide

to spice up their Christmas

engagement, they play out

their favorite fantasy--Do Not

Disturb.  They'll be a little tied

up for the weekend in their

private hotel room...

 

 

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“Ready for your surprise?”  Jessica asked in her sultriest purr then leaned forward to lightly run her tongue over Eric’s bottom lip.

“Are you trying to get me to say yes?”

“Absolutely.”  Another brush of her tongue along his lip.  “Is it working?”

“Absolutely.”

Straightening, she slipped her hand in the pocked of her satin robe and withdrew two silk scarves.

“What’re those for?” he asked eyeing the material with interest.

She looped the length of silk through the arm of the chair.  “You can’t tell?”

“You’re going to tie me?”

“If that’s okay.”  Her gaze wandered down his body in a full-blown ogle.  Then she met his eyes.   “Unless you want me to stop?”

“Hell, no.  But you know I’ll be paying you back for this.”

She smiled.  “I’ll look forward to that.”  When she finished securing his hands to the chair’s arms, she stepped back until two feet separated them.  “Ready?”

“Oh, yeah.  I have a feeling I’m going to like this.” 

She untied her robe’s sash then slowly slid the garment from her shoulders and tossed it aside.  His hot gaze skimmed slowly down from her loose hair, over her black lace bra and panties, to her high heels then back up again.

“Oh, yeah” he said, his voice a hoarse rasp.  “I’m definitely going to like this.  Strip tease?”

“Lap dance.”

His gaze heated from hot to smoldering.  “Wow.  Guess you read my letter to Santa.”

 

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Chapter One

 

Prologue

 “There’s magic in the air,” Helen Krause said, leaning across the reception desk at the Timberline Lodge to smile at Roland as he entered the inn. 

Her husband of forty years stomped snow from his boots onto one of the large red oval rugs that marked the entrance to the lodge’s cozy lobby.  Together they owned and operated the rustic lodge which sat on the shores of Mirror Lake, in the quaint village of Lake Placid, New York, a location that drew both local visitors and vacationers from all over the country.

“That’s not magic,” Roland replied, gazing at her over the stack of freshly split hickory logs he carried.   “That’s a storm.  Bad one.  Much worse than they’d predicted.  And comin’ sooner than they thought.”

“Last night’s weather report warned of only six to eight inches and that it wouldn’t hit until late tomorrow night,” Helen said, coming around the desk to relieve him of part of his bundle.

“Well, five minutes ago they predicted two to three feet, startin’ now.  Wind’s picked up and the snow’s comin’ down hard.”  He shook his head.  “Crazy weather people.  What other job allows you to be wrong so often yet not get fired?”

“Mother nature loves to throw curve balls,” Helen murmured, walking with Roland toward the roaring fire crackling in the stone hearth.  “So...looks like folks might be getting snowed in.”

“Oh, boy.  I recognize that tone.”  Roland deposited the fragrant cut wood in the curved polished brass log holder then held out his cold-reddened hands toward the dancing flame’s heat.  Shooting her a half indulgent, half exasperated look over the tops of his bifocals, he said, “Now Helen, just because Christmas is less than a week away--“

“Don’t go getting any ideas in my head,” she finished, peering right back at him over the top of her own bifocals.  “Have you noticed that we have this same conversation every year right around this time?”

“I suppose,” Roland admitted, sounding grumpy, but the effect was ruined when his blue eyes twinkled at her.

“And do you know why we have this conversation every year?” 

“I suppose.  But just because folks have fallen in love here at Christmastime in the past, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again this year.”

“Which is what you say every year, but you can’t deny that romance somehow always strikes our holiday guests.  I’m not sure if it’s the snow, or the scent of pine from all the Christmas decorations, or the winter wonderland setting, or something in the lodge itself.”

Roland turned toward her and drew her into his arms.  Even after all these years, her heart still skipped a beat.  His once thick dark hair was now mostly silver and mostly gone, and his ruddy skin bore the signs of his sixty-four years and hard work, but to her, he was still the handsomest man in the world.  And the most wonderful.  Not that there weren’t times she’d been tempted to thunk him upside his head with a skillet--he was a man after all and therefore frequently exasperating--but after forty years and five children together, she still loved waking up next to him every morning.

“Uh, oh,” Roland said, pulling her closer, until her reindeer decorated red sweater bumped against his green flannel shirt.  “You have that matchmaking gleam in your eye.”

“Hmmm.  You seem to have a gleam in your eye as well.”

“Probably because I’m standing under the mistletoe with my best girl.”

“There’s no mistletoe right here...”

Her words trailed off when Roland pulled from his pocket a twig of dark green leaves accented with small white berries and waggled it over their heads.

“You were saying?” he murmured with a grin, lowering his head toward hers.

After he’d treated her to a kiss that curled her toes inside her sheepskin-lined boots, she leaned back in the circle of his strong arms.  “Goodness.  I was saying you have a gleam in your eye,” she managed, sounding as breathless as she felt.  “Clearly I was right.”

“Not bad for an old guy, huh?”  A devilish grin creased his cheeks and he leaned down to nuzzle her neck.  “You smell mighty good, Mrs. Krause.  Like sugar cookies and pine cones.  And...”  He breathed deep and nibbled the sensitive bit of skin behind her ear.  “Magic.”

“As I said, it’s in the air,” she murmured, savoring the pleasurable tingles skittering down her spine.

“Every time I’m near you,” Roland agreed, lifting his head to smile at her.  Then his expression sobered.  “But I don’t want you gettin’ your hopes up that romance will bloom here this week and then bein’ disappointed.”

“Nonsense.  We have a number of single guests registered, you know.  And all my ‘Christmas Magic’ senses are tingling.”

“That’s because I just kissed you.”

She laughed.  “True.  But that special holiday magic is shimmering all around us, Roland.  I can feel it.  You mark my words:  before Christmas arrives, love will once again bloom at Timberline Lodge.”

 

Chapter One

 

Jessica Hayden gratefully absorbed the delicious warmth emitting from the snapping fire which danced in the huge stone fireplace in the lobby of the Timberline Lodge.  She wasn’t certain how long it would take Eric to get them registered, but after braving the two hour drive here--the last few  miles at a crawl due to the sudden heavy snowfall--then the snow and icy temperatures on their walk across the parking lot, she didn’t mind lingering near this heated coziness, at least for a few minutes.  But more than thawing out by the fire, she was anxious for her and Eric to get to their cabin, where they’d generate their own heated coziness.

Which couldn’t happen soon enough for her.

God help her, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on him.  It had been so long...much too long, since they’d made love, and now that their much-needed weekend was upon them, she was about ready to burst.  The stress and pressure and problems that had kept them apart and wrought havoc with every aspect of their lives--including their love life--didn’t exist in this rustic lodge.  Here they would have the time and privacy to get themselves and their relationship back on track.

She pulled off her gloves and her gaze rested on the sparkling round diamond adorning her left hand.  When Eric Breslin had slipped the engagement ring on her finger four months ago, it had been the happiest, most magical moment of her life.  She loved him deeply and she’d believed, they’d both believed, that everything was going to be perfect.

They’d both been dead wrong.

Everything was, in a word, a disaster.

Little had they known their engagement would spark a family feud that made the legendary Hatfields and McCoys look like rank amateurs.  After much discussion, she and Eric had reached compromises regarding the big issue of her managing Hayden’s--her family’s upscale restaurant in her home town of Marble Falls--and Eric’s opening last year, less than a mile away, a Chop House, a national restaurant chain known for excellent food at reasonable prices.  Even though Chop House was technically the competition--a fact that had caused them some difficulties at the onset of their relationship--Jessica had discovered that Eric was everything she’d ever wanted in a man.

She hadn’t believed in love at first sight until she saw him.  That first instant spark of attraction in the cheese aisle at her favorite gourmet food shop had all but fried her where she stood.  The fact that he’d chosen her favorite Brie and knew the subtle differences between Gorgonzola and Stilton had piqued her interest.  They struck up a conversation and by the time they made it to the wine aisle she knew, in her heart, he was The One.  And the next six months had only proven her correct.

He was kind, loving, patient, honorable, and generous.  He made her laugh.  Made her happy.  Sure, he had his faults--but hey, what man didn’t leave his socks on the floor and coffee cups all over the place?  Growing up with older four brothers, she didn’t let silly little “guy things” bother her.  And best of all, Eric loved her as much as she loved him.

Unfortunately, their families mixed about as well as oil and water.  Jessica’s mother and four over-protective brothers considered Eric not only business competition, but looked down on his franchise restaurant, considering it sub par in comparison to Hayden’s.  Marc, Andy, Robbie, and Carl all glared at Eric at every opportunity, resenting both his opening the restaurant and him “stealing” their little sister, whom they ridiculously felt was way too good for him.

To make matters worse, Jessica’s mother had dreamed about her only daughter’s wedding since the day she’d finally given birth to a girl after four sons.  Maybe, just maybe, Carol Hayden could have gotten over the fact that Jessica was marrying “the competition,” but she simply could not accept that Eric’s sister Kelley--who was more like his mother since she’d raised him and their two younger sisters after their parent’s death when Eric was twelve--was a wedding planner.  A very successful wedding planner whose recent clients included an Olympic gold medalist, a daytime television actress, and a state senator’s daughter.

Kelley had very definite ideas about her only brother’s wedding.  Ideas that did not in any way mesh with Jessica’s mother’s ideas for her only daughter’s wedding.  Indeed, Carol Hayden viewed Kelley’s expertise as a threat to her own plans for Jessica’s wedding.  Toss into that volatile mix Eric’s sisters’ resentment toward Jessica’s family for looking down their noses at their beloved brother, and the entire situation was as explosive as a powder keg piled next to an open flame.

Holy family feud.      

The bickering had spilled over onto Jessica and Eric’s relationship, even into the bedroom where they hadn’t even ventured during the last several weeks.  These last four months, instead of being joyous, had brought them both to the breaking point.  They desperately needed this long weekend away from the relentless pressure and arguing, needed this time alone, to put their relationship back on track.  To re-ignite their currently non-existent sex life.  To recapture the magic that had surrounded them right from the beginning.  And they would.  They had to.  Because the alternative--not being together, not sharing their lives--was a concept she simply couldn’t wrap her mind around.

Yet there had been times since they’d announced their engagement when she wondered if they’d actually be able to rescue themselves from the relentless quicksand they’d stumbled into and make that walk down the aisle together.  She wanted to marry him, wanted to spend her life with him. But...how could she ignore all the shrapnel hitting them from the family feud fallout?  And even though he’d never said so, she knew Eric wondered, too.  And she couldn’t help but wonder--and worry--that he’d grow so disgusted with the whole situation, he’d just walk away.

Well, she couldn’t wonder any more.  She needed to know.  She loved Eric.  Knew he loved her.  But, as she’d unfortunately learned over the past four months, the adage that sometimes love isn’t enough was sadly true.  She also knew, in her heart, that this weekend was going to either make them or break them.  Certainly it would result in some drastic changes because they simply couldn’t go on any longer the way they were.  For the past four months she and Eric had tried to keep everyone happy and the result was that no one was happy.  Something had to give.

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

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Reviews

 

Romantic Times Magazine

A Blazing Little Christmas is a collection to cherish.  Magical, romantic moments happen at Timberland Lodge every year.  Shimmering with humor, "Holiday In Bed" by Jacquie D'Alessandro has Jessica and Eric trying to escape their disapproving families for a romantic weekend.  But the families follow--and get caught with them in a snowstorm.

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

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Reader Comments (coming soon)

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(coming soon)

 

Reader Comments

 

Coming Soon

 

Top of Page

Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards
(coming soon)


Awards

 

 
 

Top of Page

Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews (coming soon)

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards
(coming soon)

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and blogging with the Whine Sisters -- stop by and say hi!

         

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